I’ve been trying out TripTouch, the widget for frequent travelers, while I’m traveling for the next two weeks to see what it does and what it can do for me while I’m on the road. But is TripTouch helpful for the business traveler or just road warriors who are taking personal trips?
The first thing to note is that the TripTouch widget is currently available for only iGoogle and NetVibes. I went to the TripTouch widget page to add the widget to my NetVibes page. You can also add the widget by entering “travel” as a keyword into NetVibes when setting up your page and the TripTouch widget shows up in the NetVibes widget ecosystems. When you add it via NetVibes, the widget shows up on your Travel page but you can duplicate it and drag and drop it onto your General page for easier access.
When I entered my current location – Denver, Colorado – into the TripTouch widget, the information refreshed to include a brief description of the city. Other options on the widget include:
Travel Guide – Provides content with things to do or see; how to get into or around Denver; and places to shop, eat or drink. From a business travel standpoint, when I meet up with someone, they usually recommend the meeting place. But if you are new to the area or looking for things to do, TripTouch looks helpful.
Activities – This section is clearly for personal travel and first included information on shopping and playing, shopping and dining, and shopping and beauty. Not really helpful on the business travel front unless you – like me – often include something like a facial or therapeutic massage after a hard day’s work on the road.
Restaurants – Knowing what restaurants are recommended can be a plus if you happen to be traveling on business with others who don’t know the city and if you don’t have a local contact. But when you know a local, nothing beats their restaurant recommendations. Even tips from your hotel concierge can often beat looking online. TripTouch can come in handy, however, to get the quick lowdown on the restaurant where you are going including price range; address, phone number, and Web site; instant mapping and directions; and reservations bookings through OpenTable.com.
Events – If you have to entertain someone while on business and they aren’t local, finding a decent event to attend such as the ballet or a theatre offering could be helpful.
Accommodations and Transport – TripTouch offers an at-a-glance rundown of hotels which can be useful if you aren’t using another hotel booking site. I tend to book directly through a hotel’s web site when I’m booking my business accommodations. And for flights, TripTouch integrates with Kayak for flights and car rentals. If you normally book your business flights through any of the big travel booking sites like Expedia or Orbitz, chances are you’ve already got your travel, accommodations and ground transport covered so TripTouch doesn’t seem to offer much additional value in this area.
Travelers – This is an interesting feature that can connect you to other TripTouch members who are in the area where you are traveling. I can see some interesting networking possibilities here, but probably more social than business. What would be more useful from a business standpoint is to see more than just the member’s name, date of birth, hometown and current location. Knowing their industry or occupation or networking needs or offerings could be of more value to a business traveler.
Utilities – Just a quick glance at the weather, currency exchange rates, date and time. Nothing I couldn’t get from another site.
The main things to remember about the TripTouch widget is that:
a) it leads you to the TripTouch site so you will get much more value from it overall if you are also a TripTouch member and using that site to track your travels; and
b) if you don’t use NetVibes or iGoogle you are currently out of luck in terms of using the widget and since I’m not finding an urgent need to use NetVibes, chances are I’ll either not be accessing TripTouch or will try it out a little more to see if it can help me on my upcoming business trips to Seattle, San Francisco, Tampa and Las Vegas where I’ll be attending and/or speaking at conference and reserve judgment a while longer.
Since my main needs while traveling on business seem to be places to eat, a good spa for a much-needed spa treatment, wifi hotspots around town, grocery stores for snacks to keep in my hotel room fridge and drugstores for extra or missing toiletries, I need to find the best traveler site that consolidates these kinds of practical listings and localized traveler resources.